January 22nd, 2015
I randomly got this email last week and thought I’d send it your way (they filled out a contact form on my website). I pressed a little harder to see who this person was and why they emailed me, but I have yet to hear back. The “@aol.com” email leads me to believe this isn’t a professional, and I doubt some other photographer would go out of their way just to share information. I do offer aerial services on my website, so I’m sure they found me through a simple Google search.
This was the text of the e-mail:
FAA laws currently state that UAV/UAS are not to be flown for professional usage, yet your website clearly states that you are offering professional photos and videos for compensation. The current fines for offering drone services without a permit is $5000. The FAA is scheduled to release it’s new laws September 2015 however currently you are in violation. I would suggest you change your offerings until you obtain the proper FAA certification.
Attached was this letter (PDF).
There is much about this email that doesn’t look professional, like the aol.com e-mail address but on the other hand, this is very much the style the FAA used when they harassed real estate photographer, Rusty Freeman, in LA, and shut down his UAV business in 2012. Also, Bruce in Chicago pointed out a case where the FAA is apparently investigating a YouTube video showing someone was flying a UAV in downtown Naperville.
Has anyone else received similar letters?
Update: 1/24: Yesterday the Trappy case was settled by an appeals court who ruled in favor of the FAA.